It’s a sweet and funny story: small-town girl comes to the big city and falls in love, while the people of the big city fall in love with her small-town innocence and charm.
In the Chilean musical La Pérgola de las Flores, this tale is told with an entertaining flair, and within the context of 20th century Chilean politics and culture.
A classic performance
La Pérgola de las Flores is a theatrical and musical work written in 1959 in Santiago, Chile by Isidora Aguirre Tupper (March 22, 1919 – February 25, 2011). It was first performed in 1960 by the Catholic University’s Teatro de Ensayo (TEUC) under the direction of Eugenio Dittborn. Music for the work was composed by Francisco Flores del Campo.
Isidora Aguirre was a Chilean artist specializing in social and political drama, influenced by German playwright Bertold Brecht. Aguirre is one of the most pertinent artists of 20th century Chilean theater, and La Pérgola de las Flores is her most well-known work.
Performed every year by many theater companies and casts, with many new interpretations, La Pérgola de las Flores is performed and adapted more than any other theatrical work in the history of Chile.
La Pérgola de las Flores is a particularly important event as September’s Fiestas Patrias approaches, because of the work’s cultural relevance and significance.
The story of the Pérgola
La Pérgola de las Flores tells the story of florists working in a Santiago flower pergola in the year 1926.
The mayor of the city has proposed demolishing the beloved pergola to expand Santiago’s principal avenue (actually Santiago’s Avenida General Libertador Bernardo O’Hggins). In ithe midst of the florists’ struggle with the mayor, a girl named Carmela arrives to Santiago from a rural “campo” in San Rosendo (in the Bío-Bío region), to stay with her aunt, one of the florists.
Carmela’s virtue provokes feelings of jealousy and enchantment in the other characters, but her dramatic presence and actions lead to a happy ending, preventing the demolition of the pergola.
How to arrive to La Pérgola de las Flores
To the theater work: La Pérgola de las Flores is presented in many locations in Chile throughout the year, especially in the month of September. Keep an eye on local activity calendars to find a performance near you.
To the place: It is a little-known fact that, aside from being the title of the musical, la pergola de las flores (the pergola of flowers) was real place that once existed in Santiago. The pergola was actually located on Avenida La Paz, next to the Mapocho river, in Santiago’s Recoleta neighborhood. However, it was demolished in 1948.
By Gretchen Stahlman, written for Chile.Travel